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Osun and faceless contractors: Adeleke’s Govt, politics of due process somersault

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By Waheed Adekunle

A phrase from a maxim of equity says, “he that comes from above is above all. He that is of the earth is earthly. Thus, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.” For clarity, this means that a person who makes a claim in equity must be free from any taint of fraud with respect to that claim, hence, a person seeking to enforce an agreement must not himself be in breach of it.

Also, Courtney Lynch once said, ‘leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.’ Meaning, without accountability, there can be no trust, and without trust, there can be no meaningful collaboration since open collaboration encourages greater accountability, which in turn fosters trust, as the price of greatness is responsibility.

Going by these appropriate philosophical aphorisms to describe the scourge of hypocrisy that had successfully reared its ugly head and permeated into every aspect of governance under the watch of Governor Ademola Adeleke led-government in Osun state in the last one year, there is no doubt that Osun has become an orphan in the hands of the ruling class in the state.

A careful study of happenings around the government in the state of the Living Springs since the ascension of the incumbent Governor to power, would no doubt expose one to moral decadence, insincerity and executive recklessness reigning in the corridors of power.

The tenets of accountability, transparency, probity and sincerity of purpose in governance had practically faded off, hence, the proliferation of unchecked impunity and sociopolitical clannishness which had become the order of the day since the emergence of Governor Adeleke.

Saying the current administration is unrepentantly poised to frivolities wittingly and deceptively wrapped to favour a few is to say the least of the pervasive anomalies judging from the way and manner the coveted office is being managed over time.

The administration had shown clearly to the world its penchant for lies and fraudulent nature of manipulating public psyches to score cheap political points, pretending that it is practically impossible for a government to approbate and reprobate at the same time.

It would be recalled that Adeleke’s government commenced earthwork exercise on the proposed dual-carriage Akoda-Oke-Gada-Ede-Prime road sometimes last year before the same road was allegedly announced and advertised, contrary to the principle of Due Process, an act, considered to be a gross violation of the dictates of the 2015 Osun State Public Procurement Laws.

Without any sense of equivocation, the road project was neither in the budget inherited by the Adeleke administration, nor in the supplementary financial appropriation presented and approved by the State House of Assembly and assented to by the Governor himself in the last quarter of the previous year.

It was gathered on a good authority that since the ‘emergency decision’ was taken by the Adeleke’s government to dualise the said road which was not in the budget for the Fiscal Year, the identity of the contractor handling the project is yet to be made public by the government up until now in spite of the vilification and raging questions from the discerning citizens, particularly members of the Civil Society Organizations.

In the same vein, the state government had practically failed in its responsibility to disclose the cost of the project and where it intended to source money to finance the project let alone keeping members of the public abreast of the construction state of the project since its commencement.

However, the maladministration of Governor Adeleke has indeed grown thorny wings to the extent that no one either from the State Executive Council or other aides could challenge the rationale behind the approval of the said road for fear of uncertainty in spite of the fact that the same project fails integrity test of public scrutiny.

While this ineptness in Adeleke’s government had left many in the dark, others have been second-guessing as to what may be the financial implications of some of these roads on the state going by the precarious socioeconomic realities in the country.

Recall that Governor Adeleke had in October last year purportedly unveiled N100 billion infrastructural development plan to address the deficit in various sectors and strengthen the economy of the state, where the construction of five flyover bridges in Osogbo, Ede, Ife and Ikirun; rehabilitation of 345 primary healthcare facilities; reconstruction of 31 schools among other were allegedly captured.

Similarly, the spokesperson to the Governor, Mallam Olawale Rasheed, had in October last year, in a statement, stated clearly that his principal had constructed about 55km of roads across the state but failed to reel out the locations of these roads, the contractors that handled the projects, the cost of each of the projects as well as the lengths, breadth and widths of the phoney projects claimed.

The height of these anomalies was noticed recently when the government announced its readiness to construct five flyover bridges across the three senatorial districts without giving adequate and sufficient information on how the project would be executed vis-a-vis the contractors to handle the said projects as well as the cost of each of the flyover.

In a disturbing approach to impress members of the public not minding the legal implications of such, the state government hurriedly commenced the earthwork exercise on the Old-garage-Oke-fia dual carriage road without making it known to the public the contractor handling the project as well as the cost for the project. This is the same pattern all other projects being executed so far since the inception of Adeleke’s government have followed.

One would wonder how a government that hitherto claimed to have been fully prepared to administer the affairs of the state, would just wake up in the morning and award contracts to ‘faceless’ contractors or personalities without traceable identity and track records.

Aside that it is illegal for anyone, be it governor or other members of the executive or any government official to award contract without due process as stipulated by the State Public Procurement Laws, it is a nullity for anyone to execute any unbudgeted project as such act suggests criminality punishable under the law.

For a clearer understanding, it would be recalled that the state government was recently challenged last year to show to the world whether or not it follows due process in awarding the contract for the construction of Akoda-Oke-Gada-Ede-Prime to the contractor handling it, but the scanty response of the state government’s officials particularly the responses from the media team of the Governor showed the inherent failure.

The Commissioner for Information, Barrister Kolapo Alimi, sometimes last year, featured on a popular radio programme, peered with a human rights activist, Ayo Ologun, where the legal practitioner was unable to defend the failure of his principal to embark on the road without following due process and dictates of the State Public Procurement Laws stipulating that no road project should be embarked on by government or any of its MDAs without a recourse to the dictates therein.

For the purpose of clarity and avoidance of doubt, it is pertinent to espouse the readers to some of the Sections of the 2015 Osun State Public Procurement Laws. For instance, under governing rules on public procurement, Section 23 Subsections 1-27 of the Osun Public Procurement Laws say, “Subject to the exceptions under this Law, all procurements carried out by any procuring entity shall be governed by the following rules:

“Open competitive bidding using clearly defined criteria, and offering to every interested bidder equal information and opportunities to offer the works, goods and services needed; Promotion of competition, economy, efficiency and equal opportunities to all parties who are eligible and qualified to participate in public contracts; simple, sustainable, standardized with uniform application to all government procurements and shall be adaptable to advancement in public administration and modern technology;

 

“Executing in an effective, efficient, transparent, timely, equitable manner to ensure accountability which shall conform with the provisions of this Law and its Regulations with the aim of achieving value for money and fullness of purpose; a system of accountability where public officers and persons involved directly or indirectly in the procurement process or its implementation are when warranted by circumstances to be investigated and held liable for their actions.”

Section 33 (2) says, “in the case of the goods, works and services valued under International Competitive Bidding, the invitation for bids shall be advertised in at least two national newspapers, one relevant internationally recognized newspaper, the official website of the procuring entity, the Agency and the State Procurement Journal not less than six weeks before the deadline for submission of the bids for the goods, works and services.

Subsection 3 of the same law says, “in the case of the goods, works and services under National Competitive Biddings, the invitation for bids shall be advertised on the Notice Board of the procuring entity and the State Procurement Journal not less than six weeks before the deadline for submission of the bids for the goods, works and services while Subsection 4 stipulates that, “not later than six months after enactment of this Law, the Agency shall issue guidelines for the advertisement/publication of invitation to Bid”

Subsection 1(g) stipulates that, “procurement plans shall be supported by prior budgetary appropriation; no procurement proceeding shall be formalized until the procuring entity has ensured that funds are budgeted and appropriated to meet the obligations.”

Emphasizing this further, Subsection 2 of the same law says, “all regulations, procedures and timeliness to be prescribed pursuant to this Law and specified by the Agency from time to time shall always conform to the provisions of paragraphs (a)-(g) of subsection (1).”

So, going by these provisions, it is crystal clear that our dear state has been running with an autocratic tendency which is unhealthy to citizens’ livelihood.

In a saner clime, no capital project or procurement would be made without a recourse to the laws guiding such as in the case of Osun Public Procurement Laws that govern the affairs of government in relation to the award of projects and public procurements in whatever guise.

Though the quest to make necessary inquiries as to the location of the roads claimed by the Adeleke’s government to have either been rehabilitated or constructed is germane, while not foreclosing the need to know the identity of the contractors that handled the self-acclaimed completed roads and those who are handling the ongoing road projects and other infrastructural projects in the state.

It is disheartening that the reign of hypocrisy under Governor Adeleke’s government knows no bounds and it is high time to checkmate and call the government to order so as to entrench public accountability for dignity.

Without being prejudicial, it is not out of place to infer that the current government has been awarding contracts to faceless contractors whose identities were only known to the government , not the general public as stipulated by law.

While majority of the citizens are still kept in the dark as to the costs of most of the infrastructural projects claimed to have been executed and still executing by the state government, it is also incumbent on the government to come out from shell and give unambiguous details on how the resources of the state were being used since the Adeleke’s government came on board.

As a matter of exigency, there’s a need for the government to tell the citizens the genuine kilometers of roads constructed or reconstructed so far and their true and traceable locations as well as the cost of those roads and the profile of the contractors used or still using thus far.

Meanwhile, since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu came on board and publicly announced total removal of the fuel subsidy initiated by his predecessor, the statutory allocation to the states and local governments had increased astronomically at least by 200 per cent, in which Osun is not an exception, but the bizarre adventure in the case of our dear state is what the man at the helms of affairs has been using the humongous funds for in the last thirteen months.

At the risk of sounding immodest, Osun has been receiving billions of naira in multiple folds compare to what it used to receive in the past due to the huge money that the federal government has been saving from the fuel subsidy removal and pumping same into the coffers, yet Osun has remained stagnant as Adeleke’s government couldn’t justify what the monies were being used for, let alone showcased infrastructural development that is commensurate to the value for money received.

Though some Nigerians who do not understand basic economic approach to good governance believe that the endemic hardship in the country is solely caused by the federal government, they forget that the situation is situational and circumstantial, conceived to stimulate the economy for the betterment of all and sundry.

While it is not out of place to allude to the fact that the proceeds from the fuel subsidy removal are being shared regularly between the three tiers of government, it is apposite to note that state like Osun that had received close to 15billion naira special support funds (palliative) had lost governance grip for failing to channel the resources towards the much-desired socioeconomic developments.

It is, therefore, high time to ask the incumbent government to account for all it had received as allocation and special funds from the federation accounts and other sources thus far and as well unveil the faces and identities of projects contractors it had awarded contracts to thus far, and also make public, the costs of each of the projects it has executed.

It is ridiculous that a government could embark on a road project without keeping members of the public informed as to funding; the cost of the project and the identity of the contractor as well as detailed information about where the acclaimed projects are situated.

As an advocate of good governance; crusader of quality leadership, public accountability, transparency and probity, the current situation in our dear state calls for elderly intervention so as to swiftly nip in the bud, the scourge of aristocracy, executive recklessness judicial rascality and impunity reigning in Osun.

It is incumbent on us, as citizens, to urgently rise to the occasion and challenge the government to depart from the path and act capable of glorifying ‘endemic corruption and rudderless’ in the system, so as to ultimately rescue our state from avoidable collapse.

May God heal our land!

Opinion

The rise and fall of Philip Shaibu

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By Bola Bolawole

Edo State deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has kicked the canvass; he was impeached by the Edo State House of Assembly days ago and a replacement was promptly provided by his erstwhile boss, Gov. Godwin Obaseki. Shaibu was in court while his impeachment was being perfected; we await the court’s verdict but time is not on his side. Governorship elections are due in the state on September 21st, a few months from now. It is said that one of the reasons why Shaibu had to be impeached was his insistence on contesting the governorship position in that election; apart from other “irreconcilable differences” between him and Obaseki.

Shaibu’s desire from Day One, and the pact he thought he had with his boss, was that Obaseki would hand over the baton of leadership to him; an “emilokan” kind of arrangement. And while the good times lasted between the two buddies, Shaibu enjoyed it to the hilt. He was loud! He was visible! He was influential! He was powerful! He was feared! He made Obaseki’s enemies his enemies and Obaseki’s friends his friends. He fought battles on behalf of Obaseki and waged wars in defence of a man he held dear. But nothing lasts forever and spanners often get thrown into the works. Gentlemen’s agreements are often honoured in their breach and what goes around, as they say, comes around! The reasons for this are not far to fetch.

The period between one election and another is damn too long for anyone to gain say what can happen along the line. Just one night – usually referred to as the night of long knives – can change many things. Politicians always lack fidelity; they make agreements, knowing full well that they will break them. That is why our people refer to any agreement with politicians derisively as “adehun alagbada.” Agreements made by politicians wearing flowing robes (agbada or babariga). You trust such agreements to your chagrin. Sometimes the politicians themselves are not to blame: shifting alliances dominate politics; today’s friends are tomorrow’s enemies; and political permutations are in a state of constant flux. Hence, the saying that there are only permanent interests and not permanent friends – or enemies. Especially here in Nigeria where our politics lacks principles and ideological underpinnings and political parties are nothing but Special Purpose Vehicles or mere platforms for the purpose of contesting elections.

Few deputy governors serve out their term gracefully; fewer, still, succeed their boss. The reasons for this are also many. To start with, not many governors are agreeable to the running mate chosen for them. All manner of interests play a role here and the principal oftentimes simply stomachs his misgivings so he could achieve his goal before he begins to think of what to do next. Where a deputy governor is stronger politically than his boss, that is a disaster waiting to happen. Once the governor finds his feet, his next project will be how to cut his deputy to size. Where a deputy loves to hug the limelight, it is a matter of time before he falls out of favour with the boss.

There were people who contested the running mate slot and were not happy they lost out. And from Day One of the administration, there are people scheming to replace the sitting deputy. A deputy that has a mind of his own will also not be a good friend of the boss. Leaders here love docile and pliant subordinates and followers. They want someone who will not outshine them if he succeeds them. They want someone who will not probe them after they leave office. They want someone who will cover their tracks for them. They hate anyone with a strong personality or character. They will not stomach anyone who has a mind of his own.

If you think a deputy governor is close to the governor, you will be deceiving yourself; the razzmatazz and public show of effusive affection notwithstanding. They may be Number One and Number Two but that is where the closeness ends; they may be poles apart in their thinking, political philosophy, orientation and way of life. They may belong to different political camps and may harbour divergent opinions on critical issues. Some governors and their deputies are like night and day, light and darkness. Their marriage of convenience is just for them to win an election, after which the competition and trouble begin.

I once was in a meeting where we were discussing with the governor until the Deputy Governor walked in. The conversation stopped abruptly but the JJC that I was, I resumed the conversation after the usual pleasantries but soon noticed that everyone else was quiet. So, I, too, went numb. After Her Excellency had left, His Excellency scolded me severely: “My man, why were you talking so freely before a stranger?” A stranger? The deputy governor in an administration was a stranger, I asked. “Yes! Is she one of us?”

So, you can be Number Two in an administration and yet be a stranger! I also witnessed a governor ditching people who were instrumental to his winning an election only to pitch his tent with a political neophyte with no political base. I took him up! He listened to me patiently and then replied mockingly: “Excuse me, Sir, the politics you learned is that of the classroom; the politics that we are practising here is that of the streets. What benefit will it be to me and you if we support a person to win an election and after that, you and I will no longer have access to this Dining Room (in the Government House)?” I simply gazed at his mouth! Realpolitik!

Very few bosses will support a strong personality to take over from them. Bosses are averse to a deputy who has a mind of his own. These are fundamental truths that anyone aiming to play second fiddle must understand before throwing their hat in the ring. Another useful hint is to take this advice of the elders very seriously: Prepare for the trouble that is certain to come when things are still rosy between you and your boss. Scriptures say in the Book of Habakkuk, it may tarry but it will surely come. And because it will surely come, it will not tarry! What do you make out of that? China’s revolutionary leader, Chairman Tsetung Mao, put it this way: “To have peace, prepare for war!” Does this sound contradictory? Diplomats and theorists of war define this as the principle of detente or of mutual assured destruction (MAD). Mad indeed! Scriptures again say the horse is prepared for the day of battle, not on the day of battle. Shaibu appeared not to have taken the wisdom of the elders to heart.

To survive as a deputy, you must wear loyalty and servility like a badge. This must radiate in you inside-out. Either you have this gift endowed in you from heaven or you learn how to stoop to conquer. How many politicians can stomach what Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu put up with to become Mr. President? I once listened to the head of a Mission, a highly-respected man of God, give the criteria needed before any pastor could be promoted to the topmost echelon of the organisation: “Someone who has not, not even once, raised his voice against the authorities”! And I marveled! Lick spittle? That criteria is even stricter than that of Stephen Decatur when he said: “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our Country!” Decatur at least wished that his Country would make an effort to be in the right! It will be much easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a deputy to satisfy some bosses.

This, however, is not to discourage the likes of Shaibu from challenging ungrateful, use-and-dump bosses; whether they succeed or fail does not really matter. One such politician succeeded some years back: his name is Olusegun Mimiko in Ondo State. Mimiko dared the sitting president, Olusegun Obasanjo, to resign as Obasanjo’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development and take on the incumbent governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Agagu. Mimiko built the Labour Party from scratch and, with it, ran a campaign that unhinged the then ruling PDP and unseated the sitting governor, Agagu. The election was blatantly rigged – I was on ground in the state as Media Consultant to Agagu and witnessed it live and direct – but the court eventually restored Mimiko’s stolen mandate.

History often repeats itself, especially with those who fail to learn from history, as George Santayana has posited. There is, therefore, nothing wrong if Shaibu tries his luck in Edo state. Maybe he will be the next giant-killer! Even if he is not, there is no harm in trying because every experience deepens our renascent democracy.

FEEDBACK

Nigeria: between religion economy and knowledge economy

A beautiful piece that aptly captured my feelings and thoughts on how religious activities contributed to the economic woes/crisis and general backwardness of the country. – Oso Victor Gbolahan.

Am blessed and educated by this article. It really opened my eyes to see the foolishness of religion economy taking priority over the knowledge economy. I now have a better understanding why Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world! Indeed, it will continue to be until we move from religion economy to knowledge economy. Pilgrimage should be a personal responsibility. – Aderemi Ajadi Desalu.

We have to expose the rot in all subsidies associated with religion so as to promote an effective knowledge economy that can rebuild the Nation. Nigeria can, and will be, better than it is now if we do away with religion economy. – Palcorub Nig. Ltd.

It is possible that Nigerians flock to churches and mosques because they think that their hope lies there. And the churches themselves may be bearing the weight of Nigeria’s failure because its members face the suffocating atmosphere of Nigeria’s stagnation and its attendant influence and corruption. I think, therefore, that it is not the complete truth that Nigeria is the way it is because Nigerians are religious but, rather, because Nigerians pay lip-service to religious teachings. – Ayodele Iyiola.

Bolawole is a former Editor of PUNCH newspapers and also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.

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Opinion

Osun 47bn first phase infra plan: How Governor Adeleke’s Govt allocated N23bn on a single road in Ede

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By Waheed Adekunle

Following the release of whooping sum of N47billion recently approved by Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State for some of the ongoing roads projects in the state, it has been conscientiously observed and conspicuously noticed that nothing less than N23 billion naira was deliberately skewed to dualise a single road in Ede.

This humongous fund was purposely earmarked to further isolate the Governor’s country home through deliberate effort to complement many roads that had been constructed, rehabilitated and reconstructed within Ede axis at the detriment of the other parts of Osun, since the inception of Governor Adeleke.

Recall that the state government had a few days ago released the financial implications of some of the roads already embarked on, after incurring several bashings from the general public particularly members of the opposition party.

The state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had since last year, continued to advocate transparency and accountability in the management of the public funds, calling out Adeleke’s government to make public the costs of the approved contracts and unveil the identity of contractors handling many of the public infrastructure projects in the State.

But in its belated response to the clamour, which though appeared very suspicious and ambiguous, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi, was quoted to have said Governor Adeleke approved over N23 billion for the construction of Akoda to Oke-Gada road in Ede. A road that is less than 12km.

According to the statement, N12,200,512,000 was approved for the dualisation of 5.50km Akoda to Baptist High School road and N11,090,838,764 for the dualisation of 3.86km Baptist High School to Oke Gada road, both in Ede, totaling N23,291,350,764.

It was however, conspicuously noticed that the less than 12km dual carriageway was unnecessarily divided into two segments for no just cause, as each of the segments was given to different contractors, for the reasons best known to the government. It is equally on record that the award of the same road which started last year was severely criticised by the opposition party for not following the due process and in accordance with the Osun 2015 Procurement Law.

In a saner clime, if not for personal gratification, awarding 12km intra-city road to two companies is nothing but a charade as such could only encourage corruption, nepotism and poor service delivery.

It is no long news that the resurface, regurgitation and promotion of ‘Edenisation agenda’ started from the draconian Executive Order made by Governor Ademola Adeleke right from the spot where he was being sworn-in as the Governor. The Executive Order that had ruined the lives of many people such as (over 20,000 OYES volunteers that were arbitrarily sacked; many health workers that were callously ordered home; school teachers that were sent packing and rendered jobless; O’meal vendors that were cruelly sacked among others). These are the people whose sources of livelihood had been hampered and future mortgaged in the hands of tyrannic policies that had yielded no positive impact or provided commensurable replacements thus far. No doubt the “Order” was considered as an instrument of reprisal skillfully crafted and widely enunciated to subdue perceived enemies and score cheap political points.

Taking cognisance of the fact that, Osun is one of the few states in the country with major cities and towns, the approval of over N23 billion out of N47 billion plus acclaimed ‘first phase infra project’ to execute a single road in Ede at the expense of other cities and towns in the state, has further validated the Edenisation agenda of Adeleke’s government.

It is far from rational thinking that in spite of inherent nepotism and clannishness that characterised the administration, the Adeleke’s government could still allocate humongous funds to execute just a single road in Ede at the expense of many deplorable roads that had become death traps in many villages, towns and cities in the state.

A visit to Ede would definitely expose one to and give a clear picture of many intra-town network of roads that the current government had used the people’s commonwealth to rehabilitate or reconstruct in the Governor’s country-home in the last 15 months. Some of the roads that had been constructed and completed so far in Ede under Governor Ademola Adeleke’s government are: total filling station to Alusekere through Muslim Grammar School to Owode-Ede road; Akankan to Prof. Oyeweso road; Anuolu junction through Obada to Alusekere road; Akankan to Agate road; Orita Alajue junction to Elerin road; Orita Oloki to Ogberin road; Orita Oloki to Orita Oja-Timi road; Oja-Timi to Isale-Apaso road; Okunola Okunade Sawmill to NYSC Camp road; Isibo through Muslim Grammar School to Orita Muslim Cemetery road; Ibiyemi to Sawmill Oke- Gada road; Manyasahu filling station to Hamaddiyah road.

Aside from the aforementioned roads (all in Ede) that had been completed by Adeleke’s government, there are many other ongoing networks of roads in Ede which include Orita Agate to Olorin among others.

Some of the raging questions agitating minds are; if former Governors and governments had used the state resources parochially to solely advance the cause of their towns particularly in infrastructural development while serving the state, would it be possible to have some of the physical infrastructural development we have today in most of the villages, towns and cities? How life would have been for other towns in Osun if for instance, former Governor Adebisi Akande (from Ila-Orangun) whose tenure opened up Osun to socioeconomic renaissance and infrastructural rejuvenation concentrated all or larger chunks of the infrastructural development to his country-home? Ditto others. This is a food for thought!

Chief Abdul-Kareem Adebisi Akande was once a governor, he didn’t ‘ILANISE’ Osun but rather ensured even, fair and equitable distribution of resources across the state under his watch, ditto former Governors Olagunsoye Oyinlola (from Okuku); Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (from Ilesa) and Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola (from Iragbiji).

As painful as the scenario of nepotism, chauvinism and flagrant disobedience to the fundamental principles of fairness, equity and rule of law which are the hallmarks of the current government, it is crystal clear that history beckons on all either positively or negatively. Many have governed Osun and they have written their names in the golden pages of history for generations to come, thus, the current government should know that people are copiously taking record of everything that is happening under it for posterity sake.

May God heal our land!

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Opinion

Nigeria: Child marriage violates girl’s rights

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Child marriage is a common practice in Nigeria rooted in traditional, economic, religious, and legal conditions that disproportionately affect girls and women. Nigeria’s rates of child marriage are some of the highest on the African continent.

The 2020 UN Development Program said in its development report that 43 percent of women ages 20 to 24 had been married by the age of 18 in Nigeria. Child marriage has deep and lasting impacts on women throughout their lives. It prevents them from making their own life choices, disrupts their education, subjects them to violence and discrimination, and denies their full participation in economic, political, and social life.

Ordinarily the choice or adherence to any organisation legal or Illegal should be the prerogative of everyone anywhere in the world.

On 9th of December 2023, Miss Motunrayo Abigail, a 15-year-old  Nigerian who lived with her grandmother (78 years) in Oke Aro community of Akure in Ondo State, was forced by her grandmother who has been brainwashed by a mosque Imam of the community to marry one Mr Rasheed Aremu, 45, who  is now at large. Abigail informed her Mother who later informed the authorities  and human rights services about her ordeal and secured her freedom from forcing her to early child marriage without her consent. The Chief Imam has now been arrested and facing the wrath of the law while Mr Rasheed Aremu is at large.

The father of the girl, Mr A. Pedro who lives in diaspora has commended the swift response of the law enforcement agencies and human rights services for their quick intervention and bringing normalcy into his  daughter’s life. He called on the federal government to intervene and quickly implement a UN developmental program in the country.

The Nigerian government has obligations under African and international human rights law to protect children from being forced into marriage. However, Nigeria’s federal and state laws hold contradictory positions on protecting children from marriage and violent traditional practices.

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